Privacy, Advertising, and Putting Members First

August 11, 2011

Over the last few days, some of you may have read stories or blog posts about new forms of advertising that we are testing on our site, called “social ads" [1]. Since the launch, we’ve also been gathering feedback from our users and we hear you loud and clear.

The trust of our members is central to what we do, and we always aim for clarity, consistency, and member control in all matters related to privacy and data. With that in mind, let me clarify a few things:

  • In early June, we announced changes to our privacy policy -- including the new ad format’s opt-out policy -- ahead of the first small test of these social ads. We also reiterated the same during the launch of social ads, explaining how members could opt-out of sharing their recommendations with their network. For those members who may have not read this on our blog, we included a banner ad on the site that contained a link to the new documents, including a summary of the changes, and links from which all members could easily access their account settings.
  • We never share personal information with third party advertisers. That was true prior to the launch of the social ads test, and remains true today. The only information that is used in social ads is information that is already publicly available and viewable by anyone in your network.
  • Most importantly, we made it easy for our members to opt-out of inclusion from all social ads with one click. On each member’s Accounts and Settings page, the first option under Privacy Controls (under the "Account" tab) is “Manage Social Advertising”.

Our core guiding value is Members First. And, with regards to the social ads we’ve been testing, we’re listening to our members. We could have communicated our intentions — to provide more value and relevancy to our members — more clearly.

Most importantly, what we’ve learned now, is that, even though our members are happy to have their actions, such as recommendations, be viewable by their network as a public action, some of those same members may not be comfortable with the use of their names and photos associated with those actions used in ads served to their network.

So, we will be changing how these types of social ads look, from this:

[caption id="attachment_7339" align="aligncenter" width="307" caption="Before: Social Ads"][/caption]

To this:

[caption id="attachment_7340" align="aligncenter" width="307" caption="After: Social Ads"][/caption]

Trust is the foundation upon which the LinkedIn platform is built. We’ll continue to work hard to earn and maintain your trust, while delivering the most valuable and relevant experience we can.

[1] These ads are commonly referred to as “social ads”, since they include some information and recommendations that our members have already made publicly available on the site.